What is data strategy

Data strategy, in its simplest form, is an organization’s vision on how data is managed across the enterprise, as well as how it can be made available to the business in the right format, at the right time.

When embarking on a data transformation journey, the most common challenge businesses face is becoming ‘data driven.’  Change may be even more difficult for those with less mature data management strategies and who are less tactical in their data management efforts. Irrespective of industry verticals, most organizations are cognizant of the need for a data strategy in order to improve agility.

A wide variety of solutions have emerged over the last decade which both generate and use structured, semi-structured and unstructured data[1]. When these sources are integrated, they pave the way for the development of leading applications, ranging from business intelligence to advanced analytics to Industry 4.0. These solutions are prompting organizations to improve their approach to data management and become more data driven.

In order to plan an enterprise-wide approach to data transformation, streamlining data creation, collection, governance, management and archiving is paramount. Developing a data strategy is a step in the right direction, irrespective of where an entity is in their data transformation journey. Planning helps democratize data and make it relevant to decision makers across the organization.

Why is a data strategy important?

Today, nearly every business is a data business. Treating it as a strategic asset is not only essential to an organization’s success, it is critical. A data strategy must be in place in order to truly understand and unlock potential across functions.

A data strategy can help organizations:

  • Meet regulatory requirements
  • Realize a connected enterprise and optimize the customer, supplier and employee experience
  • Accelerate core operations
  • Unleash a digital-first mindset
  • Incorporate innovation and deliver smart solutions
  • Democratize data, making it more visible and actionable 

Who is responsible for developing an enterprise-wide data strategy?

Data strategy cannot be developed in isolation and hence cannot be delivered in a silo. In fact, a high degree of collaboration across the organization—including key stakeholders from front, middle and back office functions—is key. In addition, the strategy should have a well-defined charter and be aligned with the organization’s vision and mission. Also, near- and long-term business objectives must be kept in mind. It is highly recommended to establish a task force that would consist of representatives from across the organization. 

There are four main lenses that can be used to view data strategy:

  1. People:
    1. Do we have the right skills to manage data and ensure the business functions get the data they need at right time?
    2. When it comes to data management, have we provided adequate training for our people?
    3. Is our target operating model robust and flexible enough to minimize the impact of changes in the business landscape? 
  2. Process: 
    1. Are there well-defined business processes that ensure standards and service level agreements are in place for effective data management?
    2. Are these processes tracked, monitored and updated regularly in alignment with changes in the business landscape and regulatory requirements?   
  3. Data: 
    1. Is the data lifecycle well understood across the organization?
    2. Does enterprise data architecture exist? Is it published organization wide?
    3. Are there data repositories/stores that ensure optimal quality to support business functions in taking data driven decisions?
  4. Technology:
    1. Is the enterprise’s current technology stack capable of overseeing all aspects of data management?
    2. Are technology decisions made taking business needs into consideration?
    3. Does technology support self-service, allowing business teams to do their own analysis?

Data is central to nearly all businesses and proper management of data is paramount. Developing a strategy and investing in a skilled data management function contributes to an organization’s competitive advantage and may well help capture larger market share and improve customer satisfaction.

The information contained herein is of a general nature and is not intended to address the specific circumstances of any particular individual or entity.

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[1] https://info.kpmg.us/content/dam/info/en/techinnovation/pdf/2019/top-10-technologies-for-business-transformation.pdf